Where were you?

November 4, 2008 – no matter what side of the aisle you land – was a historic day.  Surely, it meant something different for our generation(s) as we did not live through the Civil Rights movement, but it was historic nonetheless.  In case you were under a rock, Barack Obama was elected president. 

In chatting with folks at this weekend’s CTA conference, I realized that November 4 could be for us what November 22, 1963 was for our parents.  Or even, what September 11, 2001 or April 2, 2005 has been for our generation.  It is a day that we will always remember where we were at when we heard the news. 

For instance, on April 2, 2005 when Pope John Paul II died I was surfing the web while listening to some history lecture at Catholic university.  I can feel myself sitting in that uncomfortable chair in the student union, dying to interrupt the lecturer with the news that flashed across my computer screen.  I did, in the end, restrain myself.  I will always remember that day.

So, I thought it might be interesting – in a totally non-partisan way, as historic events like this tend to distract us from the polarization of our society – to hear everyone’s November 4 stories. 

Where were you when you heard?

Here’s my story:

I was at a small, surprisingly uncrowded bar in DC with my partner, two of our faithsharing pals, and fifteen of our best friends (having only become best friends in bonding over CNN for the past five hours).  At 11 pm, when they announced that Obama had won, there was a silence that went over the place followed by tears, applause, and blueberry vodka shots.  After McCain and Obama’s speeches, we took a group picture – the whole bar, that is – and went on our way.  The metro was closed and no cab was in sight – which meant a 20 block walk home.  The streets were filled with people cheering and honking their horns (94% of DC voters happened to vote for Obama – though our vote doesn’t matter much).   It was slightly drizzling on our walk back but fun nonetheless.  When we made it home, I checked – of all things – folks’ Facebook status updates. Some of my friends expressed their joy, while other friends felt disappointed in California, Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas, and still other friends felt that Obama’s election was a threat to the causes they hold dear.  I went to bed with that feeling that something incredible just happened.  Fireworks were still going off in the distance. 

So, now it’s your turn.  Where were you?  I challenge you to stay away from slander against one candidate or another because – like I said before – this was a historic occasion no matter what your politics might be.  

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About Kate Childs Graham

Kate Braggs has recently completed her graduate studies in Gender and Peacebuilding at the University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. In her graduate studies, she focused on the intersection of gender, sexuality, and religion in a human rights context. Currently, Kate is working as Justice Advocate for a community of women religious. She is also member of the Call to Action Next Generation Leadership Team, the Women's Ordination Conference Board, and a small faithsharing community in the Washington DC metro area.

6 thoughts on “Where were you?

  1. On 11/4/2008, I spent a few hours knocking on doors to get out the vote (73% of Dane County voted for Obama, so I doubt the 20 or so people I talked to swayed the election either way). That evening, I met my wife and some of her law school friends at an Irish bar just off the capitol square in Madison (one of my faithsharing friends came too!). Things crept by very slowly, but after Obama won Pennsylvania and Ohio, we knew that we were pretty close to witnessing history. We decided to go home since the bar didn’t have the volume up – we wanted to be able to hear the speeches. We heard the concession speech and victory speeches in our living room – perhaps two of the best speeches I heard this past campaigning season.

    As for 9/11/2001, I remember that day … I woke up a little late and the first plane had already hit a tower. I was watching on tv. Then I decided to get to campus (about 3 miles away) but I didn’t want to take the train in Chicago – who knew if there would be other attacks and I didn’t want to be in a crowded place. So I biked down Sheridan, holding my breath and hoping nothing happened at a target like Wrigley Field (again, who knew what was going on) while I biked past it. Then I got to school, found out classes were cancelled for the day, and watched everything ad nauseum on tv with some friends. It took hours – even days – to hear back from everyone in NYC and DC. Most everyone I knew survived except for a babysitter I had when I was younger who worked in one of the towers.

  2. November 4, 2008 and September 11, 2002 will forever be linked in my memory.

    Last Tuesday, November 4, was the most beautiful autumn day in St. Louis. The trees were at their peak of colors bright with reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and browns and only a few leaves wafting to the ground in a slow dance. Tuesdays are the only day that I get to sleep in out of the week, but I had volunteered to make chili for a fund raiser at my grad program, so I got up, cooked and drove to school. I then left two and a half hours to vote just in case the lines were long. My polling place was only two blocks from my apartment, so I got to lazily walk there in 75+ degree weather and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. I only had to wait for one person to sign in before I got my ballot, and I excitedly cast my vote. The rest of the day was filled with classes and election coverage in the commons complete with free pizza, beer and coffee to watch the returns. After my evening class, I chose to watch the rest of the coverage at home with my boyfriend where we toasted all of the candidates with champaign and thanked God that the 2+ years of campaigning was over! and prayed for wisdom and social justice.

    September 11, 2002 happened to be the day after my 18 birthday and also the primary elections in Minnesota for various local candidates. I could not have been more excited to stretch my democratic right to vote that day, so my dad and I went to the polls at 7AM (CST) so I could vote for the first time and get to school in time for my first period class. Proudly wearing my “I Voted” sticker, I left my first period class at the all-boys military academy where I was taking an AP class not talk at my all-girls Catholic school, and proceeded to walk five minutes back for my second period class. As I left the boys’ school, I noticed an honor guard lowering the flag. It wasn’t until I got back to my school where S. Marie Therese, then mother superior of the Visitation sisters who ran my high school, was making an announcement about what had happened in New York over the loud speaker. The rest of the day was a blur of classes and news coverage , prayer services and work, before I got to go home to spend the evening with my family. I can never vote again without being reminded of that day.

  3. I slept through the actual event, I thought it would be a near occasion of sin to actually watch it. As I learned of the results it was a sad occasion, I couldn’t help but be concerned that the pro-death promises our President-elect made might in fact become a reality, I thought of the living saints I know that work the CPCs, and counsel women on the streets, and I became concerned that I might soon see the day in which these people are persecuted and criminalized by a re-energized opposition and a set of laws that our President-elect promised to unleash. I thought of a picture I saw at a local CPC, of a class of women, all the smiling faces of the young girls that were helped there and chose life over death for their children, it now seems real that the CPC may be forced to close. I thought these thoughts and so many more, I took some comfort last Sunday talking this over with fellow parishioners who felt these same things. It was a bit like the time after 9/11/01 when our imaginations seemed to expand, what we never thought of before as being possible now seems like a threat.

  4. 11/4/08 – It was unseasonably warm and beautifully clear here in Wisconsin. I had voted early, so I was able to hit the snooze button at least once. :) I spent the day obsessively checking fivethirtyeight.com, even though there was no real news to report. My spouse and I crashed the above mentioned law school party. I enjoyed a Smithwicks and the rush of hooting and hollering with the rest of the crowd as the results started coming in. (We went extra wild when Wisconsin was called!) After Ohio came in, we decided to head home because we knew the race would be called soon, and it’s a 20 minute drive out to our little suburb.

    Spouse and I sat on the couch in our PJ’s, and when MSNBC called it for Obama, I just wept – I couldn’t help it. I was watching shots from around the country, and I was struck by the image of a young woman at Spelman College (a historically Black women’s college) sitting on the floor, totally overcome with emotion. That’s when it really hit me that this election was far bigger than Democrat or Republican. And I wept some more.

    I called my older sister in Philadelphia – we cried some more. As soon as I hung up with her, my younger sister in Illinois called me. She’s 16, and she was so excited, so proud of our country. I’m so glad I got to be a part of this.

  5. Mike – It looks like some of the strategies to hold the President-elect accountable have already taken form, this one was brought to my attention http://www.fightfoca.com/

    Most are already fighting abortion using several approaches, the Catholic pro-life movement to the surprise of many has a comprehensive approach.

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